Acrobatic, gooey, bouncy, flying things make their début on XBLA in The Splatters, a heavily physics based puzzle game that treats your cool-ass tricks and stunts with beautifully messed up stages filled with hearty cheers and pyrotechnics. SPLATT!!!
Developer: SpikySnail Games
Publisher: Microsoft Games Studio
Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade (Reviewed)
Release: April 11th, 2012
The Splatters hits Xbox LIVE Arcade with a real splash, it’s vibrant, cute, and a real feast for the brain. The player is required to use their entire puzzle solving skills to splash their Splatter over the different coloured bombs to make them explode. Exploding all of the bombs results in a completed level, but true success comes from making an outstanding show by performing as many stunts as possible. The player is rated out of 3 based on the score they achieve, affected by the amount of stunts the player uses and how many bombs they can explode at once, as well as other variables such as the amount of turns you take (amount of Splatters you use). It’s a simple concept with a devilish twist, getting the highest score requires a lot of skill and planning, luck won’t help you here.
There are many stunts that the player can perform to their own will, each designed specifically for certain environmental obstacles. Knowing when to use which one is essential to putting on the best show. The Airstrike stunt is ideal for firing your Splatter around tight corners or directly to the bombs, the Missile stunt is good for splashing your goo about in a heap of bombs to get a big combo, whereas the Flip manoeuvre is brilliant for building momentum and reversing the direction of your bombs. Infact, the flip manoeuvre is just so damn cool I can’t help but use it at every possible occasion. As the combos are built up, the score increases and you get closer to that ‘Outstanding’ rating, something that you’re going to have to achieve if you want to show your skills on Splatter TV.
Splatter TV is an in-game feature that allows you to share your extraordinary performances to the all-seeing online community, and allows you to watch some of the best players in the world pull off scores that seem impossible to most average gamers. Along with this feature, there is an extensive online leaderboard which shows the results of gamers from around the world competing for glory on each level, whilst allowing anyone to witness exactly how they gained such a mass amount of points. This enables other players to learn and develop their skills by observing others as they complete each round. Even if a player fails the same level continuously they are given the option for a quick demo of how to get those pesky bombs that keep escaping their grasp.
I found this feature helpful when getting stuck but despite this visual instructional aide, I still found that I was struggling to finish the more difficult levels. It becomes SO infuriating when there is one tiny bomb that evades your Splatter every single time, even when approaching the puzzle from a different angle I came across multiple situations when there would be just one bomb left. Often my Splatter would aimlessly catch itself on a tiny piece of environment and explode prematurely, ruining my combo and more often than not ruin my chances of completing a level. I think the frustration the game can generate would be its worst attribute, but of course this is unique to the player. I find myself a more than adequate gamer, but countless times I found it difficult to complete rounds despite being on an easier level.
The Splatters is a feast for the eyes with its bright and colourful and very loveable characters. Each of the levels is hosted on a cute environment that looks like it’s the home to a few ants or other bug-like creatures. The Splatters themselves are also overly cute; they make delightful little noises as you control them that quite frankly, I can’t get enough of. The visuals are pleasantly accompanied by an awesome soundtrack, it’s very upbeat and provides growing interest as you sit and wonder as to how to can accomplish the puzzle. This ensures that there is never a dull moment, even when you find yourself sitting for ages trying figuring out how you will crack the newest conundrum, you can sit back and never get tired of the music.
The Splatters has a lot going for it, it has incredibly attractive visuals, interface and soundtrack, but in a way it feels incomplete. It was difficult to get into, but quite rewarding once you managed to use skill and a bit of luck to achieve a plausible score, seeing others do well on the leaderboards was also rather inspiring. It would have been nice if the game had more features that would make it more appealing to new players like myself, as I often found myself having to take a break from its tedious puzzle solving requirements. Maybe some sort of multiplayer mode could have extended the playability of the game, and given the game the extra piece I feel it’s missing.
Despite these minor flaws I still feel as though The Splatters is a decent puzzle game with awesome physics and a cute cast of suicidal characters, however it lacks in places that prevents it from really jumping out at me.
8 – Great. An enjoyable experience, fans and newcomers of the genre will be entertained. Any noticeable flaws are largely outweighed by the positives.
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